Better Backcountry Starts with Sustainability

Three ways that Bluebird Backcountry is working towards a greener future

Sustainable practices should be at the forefront of every ski area’s responsibilities. According to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the planet could warm by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040 — a shift that would directly impact ski areas. A warmer winter translates to a shorter ski season and less opportunity for those deep powder days we know and love.

At Bluebird Backcountry, we believe in reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible. From not running chairlifts to taking Leave No Trace ethics to the next level, here are three ways that we are doing our part to protect the planet and our ski season.

skin track human-powered travel

We believe in taking the scenic route. Photo: Riley Hanlon

Human-Powered Travel

Bluebird Backcountry has zero chairlifts, which means no additional CO2e emissions. According to a study completed by the University of Colorado during the 2020/2021 season, a lift operating at 95% capacity emits 30 grams CO2e per person. The lower the lift capacity, the more CO2e per person. So, if a lift operates at only 25% capacity, then the CO2e emissions increase to 113 grams per person. Skip the lift and head to Bluebird for your turns.

elevated independent energy solar panels at bluebird backcountry

Solar panels, courtesy of our friends over at Elevated Independent Energy. Photo: Riley Hanlon

Running on Solar

With Colorado averaging over 300 days of sunshine, we decided that the best way to take advantage of our beautiful Bluebird days was to harness the power of the sun for our energy needs. Thanks to Elevated Independent Energy, our Base Area is operated almost entirely off of solar power. A renewable source, solar power causes zero Greenhouse Gas emissions and will still work on cloudy and snowy days. On select Sundays, you can catch the Elevated Independent Energy team on site and pick their brains about solar energy and its benefits.

takedown bluebird backcountry sustainbility

Breaking down the Base Area. Photo: Justin Wilhelm

A Leave No Trace Ski Area

Bluebird Backcountry operates on a lease at Bear Mountain, which includes Leave No Trace Requirements. This means that at the conclusion of each season, the ski area is broken down and stored nearby in the off-season. Once the ski area is broken down and put away for the season, our team patiently waits for all of the snow to melt before heading back to the grounds to help pick up trash. A visit to the site in the summer, and one would never know that a ski area even operated in its location at the base of Bear Mountain! 

The 2020/2021 University of Colorado GHG emissions study found that Bluebird Backcountry emitted roughly 5 kilograms of CO2e per acre — compared to an average of 44 metrics tons per acre of CO2e for ski areas in the Rocky Mountain Region and an average of 15 metric tons of CO2e per acre for smaller ski areas. This means that Bluebird’s CO2e emissions are 99% smaller than the Rocky Mountain Regional average, as well as those from small ski areas.

 

Want to be a part of the change? 22/23 Season Passes are now on sale through April 29th at the lowest guaranteed price. Get unlimited access all season long plus exclusive benefits such as one free guest pass, unlimited dog passes, 5 free nights of camping, on-mountain discounts, and more. Our goal is to continue sustainable practices with the future of skiing in mind, and we hope that you will join us in our vision.

5 Reasons Why You Should Sign Up for an AIARE Course Now

As spring sets in and thoughts of dry trails and summer adventures trickle through our minds, Bluebird is busy planning next season’s AIARE avalanche course offerings — and it’s going to be an awesome year. While it’s easy to set aside your ski gear for the next 6 months and forget about weak layers lingering within the snowpack, here are 5 reasons why now is the best time to sign up for an avalanche course.

Wandering through the aspens around Bear Mountain is one of the perks of taking an AIARE course at Bluebird. Photo: Riley Hanlon

1. Get first dibs on dates.

While it may be hard to know what your schedule will look like in ten months, signing up for an AIARE course now means you won’t have to think twice about fitting it into your schedule next winter. Starting the season off with an AIARE course, or integrating it into your winter plans, will help you gain the confidence to go bigger and farther into the backcountry once the snow starts to fall. Plus, rest assured that with our AIARE Participant Cancellation Policy, you may reschedule up to 30 days prior to your scheduled course date, pending availability.

2. Take advantage of low prices.

Investing in avalanche courses, while incredibly important, is an expensive move. Bluebird just launched their 2022/2023 AIARE Early Bird Sale, and prices are at an all-time low — sign up now and put that extra cash you’ll save towards a new set of skins, upgraded beacon, or next winter’s adventure fund.

Sign up for an AIARE course with your friends now to guarantee that your whole backcountry touring squad stays up to date on their avalanche education. Photo: Owen Richard

3. Secure a spot in the right course.

Interest in avalanche education has substantially increased over the past 10 years, with extreme spikes in the last two years. With this trend, it’s important to make sure you get into the course you want as soon as possible. Plus, sign up now to make sure there is space for your friends in the same course as you! Staying in touch with peers is a great way to build backcountry partnerships, and taking courses together ensures everyone continues their avalanche educational development — a critical component of solid backcountry partners.

4. Keep the education fire alive.

As you pack away your backcountry ski/board gear for the season and turn to other sports, it’s easy to lose the excitement for winter and knowledge you’ve gained. Booking an AIARE course now means you’ll have something to stoke the education fire, along with a motivation to get in uphill shape and brush up on avalanche skills when the snow starts to fall.

Snow science is rad but this knowledge is perishable. Make sure to keep learning and applying your skills every season. Photo: Erik Lambert

5. Sign up now so you don’t forget later.

Similar to pre-season gear prep and trip planning, getting your avalanche education on the calendar now is another way to set yourself up for a successful season. Before your brain officially transitions to non-snow mode and you pull out the flip flops, sign up for an AIARE course — this will save you from scrambling next fall to get into a course and guarantee that you don’t forget about signing up.

There’s a specific technique to perform an efficient avalanche rescue — this information is the basis of AIARE’s Avalanche Rescue Course and is critical information for all winter backcountry travelers to have. Photo: Riley Hanlon

Refreshing your avalanche skills every season is an important part of being a responsible and informed backcountry traveler. Wondering what course is right for you? Check out what Bluebird offers to decide where to start or what to take next. Bluebird is offering multiple specialized AIARE courses next season including the following:

We may be biased, but free bacon, awesome terrain, and a community of people dedicated to learning makes Bluebird the best classroom around. See what’s available and sign up for an AIARE course now!